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The effectivity of the terra preta sanitation (TPS) process in the elimination of parasite eggs in fecal matter: a field trial of terra preta sanitation in Mindanao, Philippines


Gina S. Itchon,
Analisa U. Miso,
Robert Gensch

Publication Information

Publication Type
Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan Journal of Medicine
Publication Date
January-December 2012



Earlier studies have shown that Ascaris lumbricoides ova persist in dried human faeces from urine diverting dehydration toilets (UDDT) vaults even up to 10 months without secondary treatment.  To address gaps in the knowledge for effective secondary treatment methods,  this study aimed to determine the effects of a bacterial mix (obtained from Dr Jurgen Reckin) as a fermenting medium, in combination with charcoal (Terra Preta Sanitation process) on parasite egg reduction.

 The study was conducted using twenty (20) UDDTs in Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro City, in Mindanao, Philippines. The users of 10 UDDT toilets were told to add powdered charcoal and 20 ml of the bacterial mix after using their toilets for defecation, while owners of 10 different UDDT toilets were told to just add charcoal after defecation.  The study was conducted for three (3) months after which the collected faeces from all the UDDT toilets were collected, stored for another 3 months, and were then vermicomposted separately for six (6) weeks.

 Results showed that after 3 months of undergoing the terra preta sanitation (TPS) process (addition of powdered charcoal and bacterial fermenting mix), fecal material was virtually free of parasite eggs, especially that of Ascaris lumbricoides which proved to be very difficult to eradicate in earlier studies, when compared to faecal material to which only charcoal was added.  Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) values for both experimental groups were also comparable after undergoing vermicomposting.


Therefore, the TPS process is an effective secondary treatment method for eliminating parasite eggs from dried human faeces in a country with a tropical climate like the Philippines.  It is capable of rendering faeces safe for re-use in a shorter time compared to just drying or using no secondary treatment.  This is of particular importance in developing countries like the Philippines where the parasite load in the population is extremely high.  Furthermore, NPK values after vermicomposting showed that there is no significant difference between the two experimental groups.


It is therefore recommended that the TPS process be used as a secondary treatment method for faeces collected from UDDT toilets particularly in countries like the Philippines, with a tropical climate and where re-use of faeces poses a risk to health and hygiene because of a high parasite load in the population.



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 This study aimed to determine the effects of a bacterial mix (obtained from Dr Jurgen Reckin*) as a fermenting medium, in combination with charcoal, as well as the influence of time on parasite egg reduction. Specifically, it aimed to achieve the following objectives: a)      to determine the optimum Carbon: Nitrogen (C:N) ratio suitable for vermicomposting;  b)   to investigate the potential of  terra preta (TP) as a source of nutrients to plants.


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